Prepare, catalogue and transfer selected records to the sponsoring department or The National Archives

The inquiry team will need to understand how to prepare records for transfer to The National Archives, and we can offer advice and training as necessary. This is particularly important for the transfer of digital records, which will require advance consultation between inquiry staff and The National Archives. Following the steps recommended in previous sections of this guidance, particularly around technical and sensitivity considerations will contribute to a more efficient transfer process, in addition to assisting the inquiry with management of its own records. Staff should also consider ongoing business requirements of records, as records with continuing business or legal need will pass to the sponsoring department. For specific guidance on the cataloguing and transfer of records, contact The National Archives to arrange a meeting.

General points to consider:

  • The public inquiry, or the sponsoring department which is responsible for the inquiry secretariat, is responsible for preparing selected records for transfer to The National Archives
  • We recommend that in the course of selection, sensitivity review and transfer of digital records, none of the files and folders are moved or metadata changed. This is to maintain the authenticity of the records and to enable on-going business requirements 
  • The objective of cataloguing inquiry records is to produce descriptive data that is clear, accurate and enables information in the records to be found
  • The inquiry team needs to ensure the survival of metadata which is crucial to meeting business and legal requirements. This could include title, dates, relationships with other files, structure, descriptions and sensitivity of content. Metadata will also help ensure that the authenticity of the records remains intact
  • Records selected for permanent preservation, irrespective of format, must be prepared for transfer in accordance with The National Archives' current guidelines. For further details, see 'Preparation of records for transfer to The National Archives and approved places of deposit' (below) 
  • The inquiry team needs to ensure the folder structure and metadata of digital information can be exported to the sponsoring department or to The National Archives. The National Archives' transfer metadata requirements for the digital records you send to us are minimal (file name, creation date, folder structure, whether the record is open or closed)
  • A full audit of evidence of records received, destroyed or given back to third parties must be maintained by the inquiry team. This information must be passed to the sponsoring department following the inquiry to facilitate Freedom of Information enquiries and to ensure transparency of process by the inquiry team and comply with data handling.

Find out more:

Guidance on cataloguing conventional records (PDF, 0.24Mb)

Understanding Digital Continuity (PDF, 0.29Mb)

Reference guide to appraisal and selection - transfer aide memoire (PDF, 0.80Mb)

This page contains PDF files. See plug-ins and file formats for help in accessing these file types.